Tourtellotte boys' soccer counts on strong junior class

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Thompson - posted Tue., Sep. 20, 2011
Two Tigers in one-on-one action during a recent practice. Photos by D. Coffey.
Two Tigers in one-on-one action during a recent practice. Photos by D. Coffey.

Tourtellotte boys’ soccer coach Dennis Snelling moved his players through one drill after another on Sept. 14. There were dribbling drills and speed drills, one-on-ones, two-on-ones and three-on-threes. Snelling kept the pace tight and fast. If a player had too many touches, he'd yell, “Next!” He rotated two goalies in and out of the net all afternoon.

Snelling is aiming to get his team back to the state tournament this year, and he is hoping his returning players will provide the core he needs.

“We've got a really strong junior class,” he said, “and two seniors who have been with the team for four years.” The trick will be to get his younger players to be able to support them. Eleven new players join the Tigers this year, five of them freshmen.

Snelling expects good things from seniors Greg Biron and Evan Touchette. An injury kept Touchette from playing last year, but this year he is back and ready for action. So long as he stays healthy, Snelling expects him to have a big year. “We're really excited about what Greg is going to do this year,” he said. “He's figured out how to score goals, which has been our downfall for the past two years. We haven't scored enough goals to compete.”

With Touchette back on the roster, he is looking for them to lead the team in scoring. “They grew up together,” Snelling said. “They have a chemistry together. They are both as good as any players we’ll play against.”

Less experienced are his goalies, senior Casey Kitka and junior Michael Bankowski. Kitka is a first-year goalie who is playing his first year of high school soccer. “They are both coming around,” Snelling said. “They just don't have the experience.”

And Snelling wants his team to learn how to defend the ball better. “We need our defense to play better as a team,” he said. “We’re really good at moving the ball, but we don't have as much experience with defense.”

The Tigers will carry 20 players on the roster. Snelling is counting on nine starters. There are a couple of spots that any of six people can play, he said. “They are all working very hard right now,” he said. “They know they are competing for playing time.”

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